Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Warped Tour Widow: The Truth


Two more weeks and I will be reunited with Simon. It’s flown by he says. For me, the half that’s been left at home, ‘chugged by’ would be a more appropriate description.

But in two weeks he’ll be back and you can enjoy the last bit of summer together, they say. Well, to a point. He will be back for a few weeks before heading back to America, which precedes an UK/Europe tour with Billy Talent which will take him away for A/W and my birthday. Again. But let’s not think about that right now…let’s concentrate on that small glorious window of being united.

To rely on the UK to gift us with a few sun drenched days together would be foolish, so I have booked us 5 days in Kefalonia which we will escape to, two days after he lands home from Warped Tour. Before then he’ll fit in seeing his lovely mother and a huge backlog of washing - the relentess heat on tour ensuring all his clothes are saturated with sweat. I’m sure there’s a fair bit of spilt alcohol marinating those threads too.

I know from the pixelated face-times, and the Whatsapp calls where he sounds like a robot that’s fallen down a well, that it’s a tough tour to be on. As well as the aforementioned sweltering climates of the majority of the stops, which would be fairly hard for Brit boys to cope with when stationary, they have to load in, set up, and then move about vigorously on stage. Then they have to load out, and potentially serve catering to the other bands and crew..…there’s very little time for chill. They’re also not getting quality sleep to recuperate in time for the next groundhog day like scenario. The poor guys even had to suffer from broken A.C too.

But this post isn’t about Si, or the other bands and crew on Warped Tour. This is about those keeping an eye on Instagram updates, twitter posts, and snapchats to try and feel like they are still connected to their other halves living life on the road.

I like to think I’m fairly low maintenance ( but I guess we all like to think that). When Si goes away I see it an an opportunity to really focus on work. I know we’re meant to say we can have it all, but in my experience in an attempt to have it all, one or more aspects of my life aren’t flourishing as much as they could be. Scrap that, usually one aspect or more is pretty much failing or non existent.

I am so productive in the long periods of time Simon is away, because when he’s back for these small pockets of time I want to make the most of the time and soak up as much couple time (and snuggling) as possible, and Si quite rightly expects/wants that too. But when I’m trying to be the available girlfriend when Si is home, as well as being less productive work-wise, there is less time to hang out with friends and to do all those little annoying life - admin type jobs. That’s my excuse for my jumble sale of a bedroom…

When he’s away I almost work too hard, to an obsessive extent, so my productivity when he’s around it actually probably at a healthy level, but when you’re not where you want to be in life you just say yes, push, go the extra mile, in the hope it will get you where you feel you should be.

I don’t know whether it’s just ambition and desire for a better life that fuels my need to get into this dogged approach to the daily grind. I wonder whether I just know that’s the best way to cope with my best pal being away for so long. Whenever people have something sad or troubling in their lives, their loved ones always offer up the ‘just keep busy’ tip, knowing that distraction, and essentially ignoring the issue for as long as possible, will mean the misery will have less sustain.

To be honest, on the most part I really have felt ok (ish) about Si being away, because after nearly four years I am used to it. I’ve also been part of long distance relationships for decade, which I suspect isn’t just a coincidence. I’ve always been fairly independent, I don’t mind time to myself, and have never liked the idea that when you’re coupled up you completely lose your freedom and individuality.

I wonder if I’m somehow drawn to people I know won’t be available to me all the time, because i know it will allow me to keep hold of some of the things about life that are very dear to me.  I love my friends and have never wanted to be that kinda girl that disappears as soon as she had a boyfriend, in fact in past relationships by commitment to my friends actually was the cause of many a row. So despite my acknowledgement that I do dedicate a lot of time to Si when he is home, and the percentage of time to my friends goes down, I still think it relative terms I’m pretty good at staving off that tendency for girls to abandon the friend ship.

I’ve got lost in a tangent as per usual. But what I’m trying to get at, is that I play it a little bit too cool. well, I’m not playing, it’s not a game, but my focus is on work, and the trick that distraction plays on my ability to cope, means that Si probably sometimes wonders whether I care at all. In fact my apparent aloofness would probably be the main cause of  hiccups during a period of separation. I wait for him to message or call, instead of making sure he wakes up to a nice message from me in the morning, or sending his pictures of what I’m up to as a reminder I’m thinking of him (but also as a reminder of what my face looks like).

I don’t bust Si’s balls about calling or texting. Not that I’d need to because Si is naturally an exemplary band boyfriend. He makes an effort to check in whenever he can, even if it’s when he’s in the queue to get his catering or on route to the workout tent they have on the tour. He also makes sure I know that he’s thinking of me. I’m very lucky that I'm regularly reminded that he can’t wait to see me - the feeling is of course mutual, even though I perhaps don't say it enough.

I’m very fortunate that I don’t find the concept of him being out of sight a worrying one in terms of remaining faithful. I imagine if there are any jealousy or trust issues, warranted or not, that these long stints apart would be excruciating. I have seem many other’s in more tumultuous partnerships drive themselves to despair - obsessing about every tagged pictures, every new person they follow, any girls voice they may hear in the distant background of a phone-call. Having been in a relationship with a complete, for lack of a better word, ‘fucktard’, I know that’s something I could never do again. Life is stressful enough without feeling the need to be a stealth spy.

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked in the last month or so is, ‘Why didn’t you go too’. I can’t help but think Almost Famous has warped the minds of unknowing people outside of the industry, thinking that it’s all singing  Elton John, looking flawless in boho outfits, and that much lusted after debauched kind of romance. The real answer will completely debunk all of those tumblr-esque visuals I’m afraid. Unfortunately not all bands have a budget/room to have an extra, unessential human on board a bus. In my case it’s not even something that was considered. Yes I could visit, but I sadly don’t have the money to jet out to a random state in America, for the sake of a few hours with Si. If I pay out that kind of money to visit America, I have to know it will be for a substantial amount of time and that I’d get to spend a good amount of time with Si. The reality is that my trip could fall on one day off (which they usually spend doing some laundry), the rest would be spent trying to make friends with other warped attendees , while Si is off doing all of his band duties. It would also inevitably feature more than a few moments of feeling like I was in the way or a burden. 

I know this, because even when I join the bands at festivals or gigs there is always an element of feeling like I have created extra stress in being there. Whether it’s be having to call Si during his warm up because there’s a problem at the guestlist, or because the gigs gone bad due to tech issues and my presence during the grumpy aftermath is awkward. Then there’s wanting to have a few moments together to walk around the festivals, which are punctuated by a continuous stream of interruptions from industry peoples or fans, which lead to Si wanting to retreat to the sanctuary and safety of the dressing room. My worst memories come courtesy of tour managers of bands they have been playing with who have presumed me to be a ‘band slut’ and have referred to me as that when trying to watch my boyfriend side of stage. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve watched side of stage (which is rubbish by the way, the sound is terrible) to be shoved out of the way - sometimes with good reason, when a cable comes loose - and sometimes when a walking ‘ego’ decides they have more right to be standing at the front of the collection of side stage ‘w’*****” ,than you.

I also don’t like the assumption that I have a life that I could leave, just like that…you know, for my man. Hopefully we’ve moved on from a time where our (female) role is merely as a support for the male - the person that keeps house while the man is out making money. Unless I could create a way that I could create content on tour that I was happy with, that wouldn’t involve sacrificing a huge amount of opportunities I would have got at home, then right now at least, I wouldn’t be happy to do it. Si would never expect me to come either, and I've not broached whether he would like me to, should all the above issues have satisfactory solutions.

Si and have had a couple of very natural wobbles over the weeks, mainly due to tiredness and stress on both sides, but we’ve come through it all pretty damn smoothly. So I haven’t needed a huge amount of reinforcement from friends in terms of the relationship. Yes I was lonely, but that doesn’t warrant a need for much girly pondering and over-analysing.

I have been slightly disappointed by the lack of support from friends over the last few weeks though. I get it though, it’s so hard to remember and consider everyone in your life’s different positions and struggles, particularly when getting on with your own ‘shit’ takes some much time and mental capacity. It just would have been nice if a few more of my girl friends, particularly those that have an understanding of what it’s like to be a band widow, made suggestions to meet up or grab some food, or have a girlie night in front of the TV. 

Being outside of London I already feel incredibly out of the loop, but seeing them all hanging out with pals on my snapchat when I’m at home watching Netflix on my own, has made those down times that I would usually have spent with Si a lot harder than they needed to be. I think many of them forget that I don’t have housemates to distract me or offer up that very simple thing of company and conversation. I don’t have those interactions that they all get at work either. None of those mundane ‘How are you’s?” they get when they enter the office, gossips by the coffee machine, people to grab a lunch break with or to grab a quick post work drink. You get what I’m saying. Basically, I’m more alone, than most tour widows are.

Like I said before, I usually cope well when Si’s away, missing him, his cheeky smile and fantastic cooking of course, but enjoying the focus on work. This time has been the hardest for a while. I found myself feeling really sad about missing another summer together. The years are passing with terrifying pace, and my awareness of their haste means that every summer, and all it’s possibilities for travel, adventure, and simple english summers evenings at the pub, hold great value to me. Every unfulfilling one that speeds by, my feelings of regret, resentment heightens.

Over the last few weeks I’ve also struggled with my mental health. For a while I felt I had a good hold on it. But sadly my hold is never firm, just a few unfortunate incidents levers the knuckles open, and my ability to cope escapes my grip. I’d had a few days of being screwed over in work, and losing hundreds/thousands of money as a results, then a few cruel youtube comments punched me further and bolstered the negativity. I found myself in that ‘why is it always me’ spiral, completely losing rational and any trace of hope.

My mum tried to comfort, for once acknowledging that my situation really was ’s***’ rather than doing her usual of saying how fortunate I am compared to many in the world. Si would have done everything he could to ease my anguish if he was here… but he wasn’t. And it’s in these moments you realise how much you need that one particular person. It’s not about being kept busy, having company, or someone to talk to. It’s about having that person. Your partner in crime, the person you are your most ridiculous with…and sometimes/regularly your most unattractive with. The person that takes you at your most vulnerable and wants to build you back up to being your strongest version.

I’ll be glad to have you back, and be that person for you too, even if it’s just for a short while.

Forever waiting for you.
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